Mike Callander – Twilight 12″ – Haul

The title track from this relatively new Australian producer shows shades of Telefon Tel Aviv & Terre Thaemlitz in its light chromatic microsampling.  The melody feels right at home in the autumn colours outside; while I have no idea what weather the producer had in mind, the three versions sound to me like three different seasons.

The original is a golden, autumnal melancholy, with skipping kick drum keeping time for gritty grains of piano and guitar chords delaying between the stereo channels.  Then Tornado Wallace’s Remix detunes the melody and squares it up over a house beat, replete with staccato handclap accents, for a maybe more cozy, darker, winter clubbing feel, with late woozy chords providing some glimmers of light.  On the long side, Alexkid‘s version is an easy pick for the summer: it’s groovy, has a European outdoor party flair with the sizzling hats and elastic swung bassline, it is propulsive without being insistent.  Suggestive, even.

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Emika – Pretend / Professional Loving 12″ – Ninja Tune

The suddenly prolific Emika assembles, via Ninja Tune, a remarkably balanced and contemporary collection here, centered around two tracks off of her eponymous inaugural album.  Her original tracks here are conspicuously current without falling prey to cliched trends, and the cast of remixers each effectively stamps his version with his own distinctive stylistic giveaways.  This all comes together for a release well-worth a close listen.  At the same time, without massive wobble bass or banging, purist techno,  it may fall short of serving up an easy club hit.

The extended single plays as much as a compilation as variations on Emika’s vocal themes, and is stronger for it.  Kyle Hall‘s remix is on the lighter end of his spectrum, staying almost instrumental; !K7‘s Brandt Brauer Frick’s Rework tethers the trio’s acoustic percussion bits around the blueprint of her song structure; DJ Rashad & DJ BMT stay close to the original’s form as well, outlining it with a wound-up footwork rhythm that still sounds less frenetic than their usual technique set against her lilting vocal delivery.

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Snuff Crew – Domo 12″ – Killekill

Snuff Crew delivers an intense, relentless acid workout on this one.  Dry drum machine mechanics and a few layers of monophonic synth riff over a building squelched midrange acid line works the trick; this is an effective updated take on the classic Trax sound, recommended if you’ve been following Redshape, Noleian Reusse and the like.  On the flip they take a page from the drum machine jams of Atom TM & Pink Elln, dropping low-bitrate sound effects and cut up half samples of vocals and squeaky 2 note synth lines.  Raw and direct.

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Omar S presents Colonel Abrams – Who Wrote The Rules Of Love 12″ – FXHE

The funk, the readily recognizable gravitas of Colonel Abrams on vocals, and the raw beauty of Omar S’ approach to the dancefloor come together to compelling effect on this song.  It’s a notably surprising pairing, one that seems like it should have been obvious once you hear their styles colliding; certainly a single worth checking out and that you’ll likely be hearing alongside Hot Creations in the near future.

25 years on, the song isn’t thematically far removed from Abrams’ biggest hit, Trapped, his lyrics intoning some glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak time.  His vocals weave countermelodies against the timeless heavy synths so characteristic for Omar S’ biggest tunes.  Together, they lay down a hip, catchy, mid-tempo jam for the dancefloor.

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Mod.Civil – Funktionen EP (Part 2) 12″ – Ortloff

The Mod.civil duo has been carving out a niche of slightly quirky, functional tech-house for a few years now.  Probably the closest referents are producers like John Tejada and Lawrence, with their clean, synthetic production chops and openness to bright melodic themes.  Still, this falls within the template delineated by the unflagging Perlon and Kompakt standards of sleek yet syncopated techno.

That said, Mod.Civil sets themselves apart with deliberate idiosyncracies: D-Funktion winds its ravey synth chords around a strangely emotive vocal sample reminiscent of Underworld; C-Function has its tinkling keys dancing over angelic pads hewn out of a robot choir; F-Funktion closes the EP with lethargically sung vocal refrain over a hazy sunset melody.

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Just In! Glaswegian beatsmith Rustie’s long awaited full length “Glass Swords” on Warp

Rustie is small.  Very, very small.  His sound is huge, though.  Deep bass, frantic drum programming, huge sliding synth lines, disembodied R&B vocal samples.  Check out some of his other work like “Cafe de Phresh”, an EP he did with the US’s 215 The Freshest Kids (comprised of Cerebral Vortex & Buddy Leezle).  He’s remixed Modeselektor, worked with Joker, and released several acclaimed EPs.
Rustie + 215 TFK \”Cafe de Phresh\”

The album begins with a reverbed out 80’s cock rock guitar line followed by some synthesized flutes on the beatless introductory title track.  There’s definitely an overall 80’s feel to this album, although it’s an updated, forward thinking take on 80’s styled instrumentation, that somehow manages to seem ahead of it’s time.  It sounds like what might have happened if dubstep was made in the 80’s, maybe.

Although you can find this on CD in our store on the Dubstep wall, and on wax in the Glitch-hop section, to label this record post-dubstep, hip-hop, glitch hop or any other sub/genre would be limiting, and unjust.  You can also hear echos of Prince, Chicago footwork tracks, pop melodies, Dirty South 808 drum programming.  This sound is something bigger, something of it’s own, although something akin to Rustie’s homeboy & label mate Hudson Mohawke’s work (listen to the “Satin Panthers” EP on Warp), which makes sense, considering when I met them, they were attached at the hip.

Probably my least favorite track on here is “Hover Traps”, where Rustie seems to have taken the same bass sound from the Seinfeld theme and attempted to make it funky, which admittedly, it has.  I just have never been able to get over the cheese-factor of that sound, and I don’t think I ever will.  It reminds me of what Mr. Oizo did with “Cut Dick” on his last LP with the cheezy sort of casio-esque saxophone sound, but that’s a HOT track! “Hover Traps” is definitely an interesting listen, although from my standpoint, it’s not nearly as playable as many of the other tracks on the album.  Some of the standout moments here are: the first single (good choice, Warp!) “Ultra Thizz”, “City Star”, “Cry Flames”, “After Light”, and “All Nite”.

Rustie \”Ultra Thizz\”

The album does get a little bit repetitive, but overall, it’s a solid, cohesive effort, with plenty of strong, playable tracks.  Come and get it.

Fieldwerk delivers fresh, limited, avant-garde boom bap instrumentals on limited colored vinyl

It’s taken a bit of work, but we finally got the two newest releases from Chicago’s forward thinking instrumental hip-hop label Fieldwerk. Maker (who’s done extensive work with Qwel on Chicago’s Galapagos 4 label) & Joe Beats ( of Non-Prophets, with Sage Francis) team up for the split LP “Falcon by Design”, each submitting 4 thick, layered, emotive beats. This comes on translucent red vinyl.
The second piece is from Zavala, who did a split LP with PNS of the Molemen on Fieldwerk called “Canciones Modernas” a couple of years ago. That LP was a sample laden piece. This one sounds sample heavy, but in truth, aside from chopping up some drum breaks, Zavala plays most of the instrumentation you hear on this LP, “Vessel”, which consists of the instrumental versions of the Dark Time Sunshine album of the same name. Zavala is a beast & definitely a producer to be checking for. His material is creative & dynamic. I haven’t heard a bad piece from him yet. This LP is pressed on opaque white vinyl. Both are one-time limited edition pressings of 500, of which I believe most are SOLD OUT. We have 2 copies of each! Come snag them!

Also, Fieldwerk recently signed Portland, OR MC Cloudy October, and are giving away the song “Play” from the forthcoming “Metal Jerk” album, due out October 18.  HERE: Cloudy October \”Play\”.

Keep up on all things Fieldwerk.

There’s not much sleazy about James Braun’s “Sleaze Sessions”

James Braun "Sleaze Sessions"When I first got this one, released on the Sleazetone label run by booty/grime/juke/party music DJ and Chicago local Chrissy Murderbot, I must admit I had certain expectations of what it would sound like. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised as Copenhagen’s James Braun delivers something much deeper and musical than the crazy, raunchy party music I expected.

The first track titled “OD” greats you with a really nice jazzy bass line buried beneath a steady thumping beat. Much more deep than sleazy, there are some really nice strings buried in the mix that work quite well with the percussive chord stabs. The next track “ID” walks the line between the techno and house sound. As with “OD”, it certainly has that pounding, almost jacking beat but the sounds and structures remain minimal keeping the overall tone deep rather than aggressive.

Flip the 12″ over and it gets even further from what is expected as we’re treated to a really nice jazzy, soulful romp in “ER”. Featuring a really nice piano melody that slowly warps its way around some overdriven congas and a reserved low thump of a kick, this one is a highlight. On the inside cut we get a remix of “ER” by Chicago’s Noise Floor Crew. In the remix they take the melody and congas and juice things up a bit adding some percussion elements, a bigger beat and editing the structure a bit.

A welcomed surprise, this one really gained my support with some inventive, spirited production featuring a strong tilt towards the sounds of jazz. Definitely one to not overlook!

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– Scotty Brandon

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The Revenge gets his. Reekin’structions Album Sampler pt. 3

The Revenge "Reekin'structions Album Sampler Pt. 3"If you’re a fan of disco-tinged, slow-paced house music than you know The Revenge. If not by name, you’ve heard his music. Graeme Clark has been crafting his sound with his own material and remixes for a while, but now he’s taking on some older,  lesser known material and reworking it into his signature style.

On the full length CD titled Reekin’structions released on ZRecords, Clark edits and reworks 10 tracks. On this, the third installment of the vinyl only album samplers, he features three of those reconstructions and one unreleased dub. The first track is the aforementioned unreleased dub mix of Vance & Suzzanne’s “I Can’t Get Along Without You”. Built around his chugging drums, Clark works the looped samples through some lush filtering while dropping in the vocal elements with a bit of a tease to the structure. Its an excellent early one, great for warming up a room. Next is the album version of the “I Can’t Get Along Without You” rework. This version drives much harder, with less of a slow, chugging feel. This one is for a bit later in the night and operates over a much more minimal sample framework.

On the flip we get a nice edit of “Feel The Beat” by the late soul singer Johnny Adams. This is definitely a funky, stomper of a track and Clark pieces the edit together nicely making it DJ friendly but maintaining the steady groove of the original. Even when beefing up the drum elements about halfway through, you never feel that the reworking sounds forced or overly modernized. The last cut on the sampler is an edit/rework of Electric Smoke’s “Freak It Out”. This early 80’s jazzy electro-boogie track by Eddie Saunders and Kevin Marshall has a baseline you may recognize as it was basically lifted to be the main element of Gorillaz’ “Stylo”. With this one Clark creates some nice tension in the way he structures the track moving from a free form composition into a tighter more looped arrangement.

If your looking for variety and adding some new elements to your sets, this one’s for you. Its got some excellent grooves on it that can work in a wide variety of situations from house, to funk, to soul or even to hip-hop. The Revenge does it again with this one.

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– Scotty Brandon

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Michael Perkins – Mr 666 12″ – Ghost Arcade

Michael Perkins and his friends Dan Juggle, Mike Broers, and their friends Roland Juno, Roland Jupiter, Akai, Moog, Korg MS-20, Oberheim SEM, Sequential Circuits and the whole gang apparently got together to put together this John Carpenter-styled super-atmospheric, redolent set of recordings.

It comes off as a fully-realized mini-album, with memorable melodies like the carefully orchestrated Esteban & Murder By Phone, and the baroque stylings of Prelude.  The broad range of compositions evoke anything from Carl Craig‘s jazz-inflected analogue noodlings on Stations, to the melodrama of Telefon Tel Aviv‘s synthpop micro-orchestrations on Esteban II.  From the detail on the retro-futuristic full-picture cover to the full-realized vision within, this is a release that defies both trends and easy categorization.

 

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Crystal Maze – Crystal Maze EP – aDepth Audio

Curiously bipolar – this debut release veers between dark, melancholy, Detroit-influenced, atmospheric techno on the A side and jacking, squelchy analog Chicago-style house on the B.  Both are well-executed, helped in no small part by Chicago Skyway’s remix contribution on the Chicago segment of the journey.  He turns in a uniquely raw revision, anchored by a piercing mono synth line.  Second on the Chicago jack part is Two Worlds, centering around an long arpeggio sequence evoking the ominous atmosphere of Giorgio Moroder.

On the A-side, both tracks are flanked by rich, understated chord progressions.  The dusky feel adroitly balances out the sunburst of dawn on the flip.

More from Chicago Skyway here: Little White Earbuds feature.

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Lush, deep, techy goodness from Holland’s Conforce on Delsin

Conforce "Dystopian Elements EP"Another strong contender for my forthcoming ‘Best of 2011′ list is the Dystopian Elements EP from Dutchman Borris Bunnik, otherwise known as Conforce. In true Delsin fashion this release bears the flag of the Detroit sound well. A true EP, this release’s 4 tracks shape a mood that permiates throughout, taking the listener on a journey into different realms of the deep.

Beginning the voyage with “Luminous” Bunnik finds a groove based around a solid sub bass line, some subtle pads and some excellent drum programming. From there he takes us deeper into the abyss with “Desolate Ground” a downtempo, almost ambient track that is a thing of lush beauty. On the flip we hit the underworld running. In “Lonely Run” we find the real jam of the record. With a serious sawtooth analogue bass line that drives the track, this one is a monster. Not a big scary one, but the sneaky, sly one that’s lurking in the shadows of your dreams. Next we return upward with “Vacuum”; a bouncy, lightly shuffled affair full of dubby sounds and tight percussion. This one will definitely find its way into a lot of techno DJ’s sets in the coming months.

This is truly not an EP to miss. Highly recommended to fans of old Detroit Techno and all of the techno with soul since.

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– Scotty Brandon

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Uplifting vocal tracks from Kerri Chandler, Roy Ayers & Filippo Moscatello

Kerri Chandler & Roy Ayers "What About Us" & "Vibrations"If you’re a house music fan, in all of its various forms, there are great releases in the bins at Gramaphone right now. Here are two must have vocal-focused room rockers.

The first up is the white label reissue of two essential Kerri Chandler tracks. This single-sided slab kicks off with “What About Us” an uplifting vocal track originally released in 1997 that builds around a climbing bassline and strong male vocal. The inside cut was originally released in 2002 when Kerri teamed up with Roy Ayers to deliver “Vibrations”. This one has that signature Kerri Chandler chord progression decorated with some jazzy vibe work and vocals by Mr. Ayers. This is a pair of great uplifting, hard-to-find classic house tracks on one record, get it while you can.

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Jazzanova "I Can See [Feat. Ben Westbeech]" (Filippo Moscatello Remix)Next up we’ve got an excellent just released remix of Jazzanova’s “I Can See [Feat. Ben Westbeech]” by Filippo Moscatello. The original version of the track was released in 2008 but this new disco mix by Moscatello (aka DJ Naughty) breathes new life into it. Occupying one side of this release on Wurst records, the track is a true disco mix stretching out into a full epic showcasing Westbeech’s excellent vocal performance over the top of the fantastic string arrangements. If the Holy Ghost remix just wasn’t disco enough for you, this one will definitely do the trick.

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– Scotty Brandon

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Aroy Dee – Beauty And Life – M>O>S

Aroy Dee’s Beauty And Life hints at the sublimity of simplicity.  Classic drum machines, melancholy rolling chords, and slow arching development mark this as an easy favourite for fans of Mr Fingers, Steffi, and Tevo Howard.  The tracks show the more subdued side of Aroy Dee’s sometimes abrasively analog style, the strings are ambrosial and the warm bassline drops in and out of the long version.

Also contributing here is Ra.H, who has recently come to critical acclaim via his Morphosis project, his remix updates the original with a rusty film of distortion riding atop the otherwise smooth melody.  But all-told, these are three slight variations on a timeless theme, one that builds thoughtfully upon the legacy of M>O>S Records.

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Motor City Drum Ensemble – L.O.V.E. Remixes – !K7

Kyle Hall, Wolfgang Voigt, and Smallpeople are on remix duty here: an enticing collection of collaborators to pull MCDE’s downbeat tune in different directions for the dancefloor.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the least predictable result comes from Wolfgang Voigt.  Tempering his vision from his wildly experimental recent solo works, his version shows shades of the early 2000s material under the Wassermann guise.  He pulls scattered textures from the original to use as offbeat percussion, layers with dreamy Kompakt strings, harmonizes with twinkling keys, and then lays it back down again over the discofied loop from the original.  It’s simultaneously deep and ecstatic: The Orb for 2011.

Smallpeople remix the tune very much along the lines of their solo material: deceptively simple and without pretense – they dry out each of the elements, underpinning the track with syncopated piano stabs, and plowing through with a very contemporary feel. This one will come naturally to followers of Laid, Smallville, and DJ Jus Ed.  Detroit darling Kyle Hall stretches across the long-side of the EP with a loose but balanced jam session in the spirit of his Must See 12″.  It’s single-chord reprise that all but evaporates the original’s sultry vocals, leaving a sumptuously gritty machine funk in their place.

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Wbeeza ‘The Bagwag EP’ on Third Ear Recordings

WBEEZA "Bagwag EP"I’ll be honest, this one kind of leaves me speechless. I could go into some long diatribe about how great each track on this EP from London’s Warren Brown is. I could talk about the finite details of production on each track. However, that would just not do it justice.

This EP is just straight up warm, dance-floor fueling, electronic soul at its best. An essential record of 2011 in my opinion. Unbelievably good. Just listen to it.

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-Scotty Brandon

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Get dirty with Marcus Mixx’s ‘Use Your Mouth 2 Love Me’

Marcus Mixx "Use Your Mouth 2 Love Me"There is nothing subtle about this jacking Chicago house record from Marcus Mixx. From the mastering, to the programming, to the titles, this slab is taken to the extreme.

“Use Your Mouth 2 Love Me (Teeth Mix)” is a banging, compressed-drum machine romp that is sure to bring the club down (both figuratively and literally). This is Chicago shit for real, featuring screaming vocals and a thick-ass bassline.

On the flip is the more minimal, but equally as jacking, “U Blow Girl (Mouth Mix)”. This one is a bit more subliminal with some nice acid sounds and serious woofer moving bassline. However, even though the music is a touch more restrained, the lyrics certainly are not.

This is not one for the kiddies.

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-Scotty Brandon

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Motor City Drum Ensemble – L.O.V.E. – !K7

I think those already familiar with MCDE‘s oeuvre will be neither shocked nor disappointed by his latest turn. In support of his mix for the kingmaking DJ-Kicks series, he’s seized the opportunity and crafted a crowd pleasing, slinky, and characteristically hooky beatdown house tune.  With Dwayne King on the vocals, what the versions lack in his usual tracky, heavy funk, they make up for with flirtatious crooning, making for what is easily MCDE’s biggest crossover potential to date.  But while the lyrical hook weaves hotly in between the grooves, L.O.V.E. stays syncopated and blue, overall landing a not too far from Moodymann‘s recent R&B leanings.

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Dublin’s Apartment Records kicks off strong with NCW’s Panther Veil

NCW "Panther Veil"Lots of great records coming out in the past two weeks, and you can add this one to the list. This release by West London’s Nick Wilson is the debut record from the brand new Apartment Records label and carries with it some really nice and raw excursions into four-to-the-floor music.

The A-side kicks off the 3 tracker with “Veil”, a sexy, slow-burning house track built around a great vocal snippet and some Detroit-esque keys and strings. The B-side begins with a serious acid burner in “My Braindead Acid”. I like this one cause its built around a different drum programming framework than most acid tracks you hear these days having a bit of that Closer Musik chug to it. Wilson tops it all off with some mind-bending stabs thrown in to keep you on your toes. For the closer titled “Panther” the energy is raised for a late night jam that will have the floor freaking. This one has a bit of that old Dave Angel feel to it, disco-ish techno similar to some of the old Rotation Records releases. Wilson really teases the listener/dance floor here with some keen arrangement keeping things restricted yet enticing.

This release makes me look forward to what Apartment Records has in store for us in the future. Hopefully more great things to come from this new Dublin based imprint!

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-Scotty Brandon

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The Sound Diggers – Don’t Flap Just Jack 12″ – Flapjack

Justin Critchlow’s The Sound Diggers project, beyond a dozen releases deep since 2006, offers an uptempo four-track EP that will appeal to fans of the current Chicago sound of “Jackin House.” His range here spans from cut-up hip-hop vocals offsetting a bouncing bassline, all the way to a slightly bent big-band tune set to a house kick.  Summing up the attitude effectively: “The bare necessities… forget about your worries and your strife,” the vocal solo suggests during one of the bigger drops. While offering some tempo variation, the punchy sound frequent interludes and constant incorporation of horns, saxophones, rolling fretless bass, keyboard riffs, and the ubiquitous funky vocals samples keep this 12″ loose and light-hearted.  See also: Spatula City.


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